SCOTUS Says Texas Doesn’t Have to Redraw its Election Maps Right Now: Your Texas Roundup

New census data shows a dismal health insurance situation for Texans, Trump nominates a Texan to the Federal Election Commission, and Texas sues businesses for allegedly price gouging during Harvey.


QUOTE OF THE DAY


“These people are the lowest of the low to steal from those that have lost so much. Eternal damnation shall be their final punishment.”

—Vidor Police Chief Rod Carroll in a Facebook post addressing looters, according to the Houston Chronicle


BIG NEWS


Illustration by Anna Donlan

Hold Up
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a ruling by a lower federal court on Tuesday mandating that Texas redraw its congressional district maps before the 2018 elections, according to the Dallas Morning News. The SCOTUS decision stems from separate rulings from a three-judge panel in federal court in San Antonio last month, which said Texas’s maps were in violation of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The SCOTUS justices voted 5-4 to block that order, at least until the high court can make a final decision on the entire case after hearing an appeal from the state of Texas, which is expected to be on the way. The court’s five Republican-appointed justices didn’t provide any reason for why they voted the way they did (Politico says that’s “customary” in these cases). This was a victory for conservatives in the long legal fight over Texas’s voting maps, which has been ongoing since 2011. “The Supreme Court confirmed what the rest of us already knew: Texas should be able to use maps in 2018 that the district court itself adopted in 2012 and Texas used in the last three election cycles,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, according to Politico. “In 2012 the Supreme Court ordered the district court to adopt lawful maps, and we believe it did so. We are eager to proceed with this case in the high court.”


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Number One
New census data shows that Texas once again leads the nation in the rate of people who are uninsured, according to the Dallas Morning News. One in six Texans—16.6 percent of the state—didn’t have any health coverage in 2016, the American Community Survey found in data released on Tuesday. Texas was joined by Alaska as the only states with uninsured rates that topped 14 percent of the respective populations. However, there is a small bright spot: Less and less Americans are going uninsured nationwide and in Texas. The national rate of uninsured folks fell to 8.8 percent during the last year of the Obama administration, while in Texas that number dropped from 5.7 million in 2013 to 4.5 million in 2016. Still, Texas is way behind other states here. Massachusetts, for example, has the nation’s lowest rate of uninsured in the U.S. at about 2.5 percent, or one out of every forty people.

New Face
President Donald Trump nominated Austin attorney Trey Trainor for an appointment to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, according to the Texas Tribune. Trainor still needs to be confirmed by the Senate, but if that happens he’ll serve the rest of a six-year term that expires in April 2021, though it’s unclear right now which seat he would fill on the six-member commission. Trainor worked for the Trump administration once before, pitching in with the leadership transition at the Pentagon. He specializes in election law, campaign finance and ethics, and has served as the attorney for the conservative group Empower Texans, representing it during its many legal battles with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The Price is Wrong
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against three businesses on Tuesday, alleging they price gouged customers during Harvey, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The lawsuit alleges Robstown Enterprises, the owner of the Best Western Plus Tropic Inn in Robstown; Bains Brothers, owner of two Texaco gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area; and Encinal Fuel Stop, a Chevron station near Laredo, all jacked up their prices during Harvey, breaking a state law that prohibits businesses from charging exceedingly high prices for drinking water, food, clothing, and fuel during a governor-declared disaster. The penalty is a fine of up to $20,000, rising to $250,000 for violations targeting the elderly. The lawsuit also seeks to make the businesses fork over the money they made due to price gouging, to be repaid to the affected customers who can be identified. “It’s unconscionable that any business would take advantage of Texans at their most vulnerable—those who are displaced from their homes, have limited resources and are in desperate need of fuel, shelter and the basic necessities of life,” Paxton said in a statement.


WHAT WE’RE READING


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State Senator Carlos Uresti testified that a company he was involved in “might have been a Ponzi scheme” San Antonio Express-News

The reality show COPS will be filming with officers in Bexar County San Antonio Express-News

Former Longhorns reminisce over their 2006 Rose Bowl win over USC Dallas Morning News

Beaumont tenants are being evicted from their Harvey-damaged apartments Beaumont Enterprise

Panhandle residents won a battle against a cattle company to keep a smelly dairy facility out of their town Amarillo Globe-News